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"Okay, this is not so great." Rodney was pretty impressed with how calm he sounded. He struggled up to his feet, wiping stone dust from his eyes; not that it mattered, seeing how they were in pitch darkness under something like, oh, a million tons of rock
, and they were going to die horribly, either by starvation or asphyxiation, assuming the rest of the cave didn't come down on top of them first.
Then he noticed there hadn't been any answer. "Major?" he said. He groped for the wall, fumbling, heart pounding now. "Major!"
He stumbled over something and fell hard, hissing in pain as his hands came down on gravel and sharp rocks. And forgot the pain immediately as the rock he'd stumbled over groaned and shifted. "Major?" he said, and felt over John's body, trying to see if he was pinned under anything.
"You're getting a little friendly there, McKay," John said groggily, and groaned, his legs shifting as he sat up. "What happened?"
"Well, let's see," Rodney said, deeply relieved, "First you said, let's respect the aliens' customs, and then I said, the cave looked structurally unsound to me, and then you said, they've been coming here for years so obviously it was safe -- "
"So what you're saying is, this is my fault," John said.
"I was working up to that," Rodney said. "I was going to get in a few different versions of I told you so
"How about you save it for after we're out?" John said.
"That's optimistic of you."
"Ford and Teyla will get us out."
"Actually, that's what I'm most worried about," Rodney said. "These are limestone caves. The stone's essentially fragile and porous, and it's already been mostly eroded by water. If Ford tries to use C4 to blow the entrance of this cave clear, he'll probably destroy a significant amount of the natural vaulting."
"And that would be bad?"
"How hard did you hit your head?" Rodney demanded. "The vaulting is what's bearing most of the weight of the mountain
over our heads."
"Just checking," John said. "Any ideas?"
"Oh, of course, now
you want to hear my ideas," Rodney said.
"Rodney!" John said. "Do you really want an apology more than you want to get out of here?"
"Let me think about it," Rodney said. He didn't have any ideas to share.
"Okay, you do that," John said after a moment of silence: he'd gotten the picture, then. In the dark, Rodney was weirdly aware of his body, the only source of warmth; limestone all around them cool and damp as a tomb.
"Maybe we could move farther in," Rodney said after a minute. "If this chamber comes down, the cave system might restabilize again, and there's a chance there would be an opening left then."
"It's a plan," John said. "Which way is farther in?"
"Away from the cave-in is good," Rodney said. He groped for John's arm and together they got to their feet. They walked along the curving, moisture-slick wall, Rodney's hand running along the surface their only guide. Beyond the sound of their footsteps, there was only the irregular drip-drip-drip of trickling stalactites. Rodney found his breath coming quick, fluttering, noisy. John shifted, and his hand, dry and warm and firm, slipped into Rodney's free hand. Their fingers silently interlaced.
They went on deeper into the dark.
= End =
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